LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Central School District is taking steps to review its safety and security protocols in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
At last week's regular Board of Education meeting, board President Mary Dietrich asked Superintendent Randy Richards to lead a brief discussion on how the district keeps its school buildings secure and the additional steps it will take to "try to guarantee the safety of our children."
About a year and a half ago, the district began reviewing its safety plan "from top to bottom," Richards said.
"It was out of date (by) a couple years," he said. "We worked with (the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services) to review the safety plan. We've got a district plan, and specific building plans.
"On top of that, we also formalized a team that meets regularly. It's a hard-working team. We've committed to doing more drills, more safety drills, than we have in the past. Every time we have a drill or an actual incident in the district, they sit down and do a review and debrief, and they make their comments and decide what the next steps are going to be and if changes are needed."
Richards said the district's initial response to the Sandy Hook shooting was to supply faculty and staff with information about how to discuss it with students. He thanked elementary school Counselor Mary Michelfelder for distributing articles and other resources, which have been posted to the district's website.
Richards said he and his building principals sat down with administrative assistants to review door procedures at the elementary and middle-high schools.
"We'll work as hard as we can because safety is job one," he said. "But we've got some severe barriers here, severe challenges. There is no defense against insanity; you can't reason insanity. The guy shooting at the door at Sandy Hook is something we're all worried about.
"The paradox is these buildings are public buildings, designed for easy entrance and easy exit. We have our procedures. We have our door policies. But there's no guarantee against insanity."
Richards said the individual responses from teachers, custodians and other administrators protected against further loss of life in the Sandy Hook shooting.
"There's no doubt in my mind you'd get a similar reaction in this district if, God forbid, it should come to that," he said.
School board member Herb Stoerr asked if the district has checked its protocol for letting in visitors after entrances are locked in the mornings. He also asked if security cameras provide secretaries with full body images of guests.
Richards said the video cameras "are not sufficient.
"We had a recommendation a few years ago - and this is something I think the Facilities Committee should take a look at - on revamping the security systems and revamping the camera systems," he said. "We know that with the vandalism incident we had last year, they're insufficient."
Stoerr said it would be a good idea to re-train staff members responsible for opening entrances to visitors.